AMHERST - Longtime Amherst resident Sylvia Steele Torrey, 90, died Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, at the Hospice of the Fisher Home.
Mrs. Torrey was involved in local organizations and community activities for nearly 60 years and was the wife of Allen L. Torrey, Amherst's first town manager, who died in March of this year. In recent years the couple lived at Applewood of Amherst.
Survivors include her three sons, David S. Torrey and his wife Katie M. Torrey of Amherst, Philip B. Torrey and wife Nancy G. Torrey of Amherst, and Allen S. Torrey and wife Kate Douglas Torrey of Chapel Hill, N.C.; a granddaughter, Sarah Mitrou and her husband Jeffrey Mitrou of Windham, N.H.; two grandsons, Alexis Torrey of Amherst and Nicholas Torrey and wife Abigail Dean of Carrboro, N.C.; three great-grandchildren, Anna Mitrou of Windham and James and Rose Torrey of Carrboro; and an uncle, William F. Baxter and his wife Jean W. Baxter of Gilmanton, N.H. Mrs. Torrey's brother, Rodney R. Steele, died in 1954 while in military service.
Sylvia Jean Steele was born Aug. 25, 1923 in Concord, N.H., the daughter of James F. and Marion B. Steele. She grew up in Weymouth, Mass., where her father was a high school teacher
. After graduating from Weymouth High School in 1941 she entered the University of New Hampshire, majoring in English.
Following the nation's entry into World War II
that December, she embarked on an accelerated college program that enabled her to graduate in three years. During the summer of 1942 she worked at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Mass., and immediately upon graduation from college she joined the Intelligence Branch of the U.S. Army
Signal Corps as a civilian employee in Washington, D.C.
There, she worked in cryptographic analysis at the Japanese Section of the Signal Corps' Arlington Hall facility, one of the War Department's two primary code-breaking operations in Washington. She worked until the end of the war and advanced to become a day-section supervisor.
On Jan. 19, 1946, she married Lt. Allen Lovell Torrey, an Army Air Forces pilot, in Weymouth. The couple lived in Orono, Maine, Lancaster, N.H., and then Camden, Maine before coming to Amherst in 1954.
Mrs. Torrey taught in preschool at the Munson Memorial Library in South Amherst and served as a substitute teacher in the Amherst public schools for many years. She was a member of the Amherst Women's Club, the Travelers Club, the Crafty Ladies of the South Congregational Church and the Thursday Club of South Amherst. She was also a longtime volunteer with the Amherst Historical Society and Museum and had served as president of its Board of Trustees. In March 2013 she and her husband were honored with the Historical Society's first Stephen J. Puffer Lifetime Achievement Award.
She was also an avid sports fan and enjoyed playing tennis and golf, the latter well into her 80s. She was devoted to her community, to her many friends, to her family and especially to her grandchildren. Gifts of remembrance may be made to the South Congregational Church, Amherst, where she and her husband were members for over half a century.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, at the South Congregational Church in South Amherst. Obituary and memorial register at www.douglassfuneral.com.
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